Say My Name

Page 29


He drove fast, which didn’t surprise me. Neither did the car, a sleek black Porsche that maneuvered the tangle of Atlanta traffic as smoothly as butter on a griddle.
“Nice ride.”
“It is,” he agreed. “She’s a classic. I bought her from a collector as a present to myself when I got my license a few years back.”
“Your real estate license?” I asked, assuming he either worked with one of the Brighton big shots or was being courted as an investor.
I sat up a little straighter. “Oh.”
He took his attention off the road long enough to glance at me. “You sound surprised.”
“I’m not,” I said. “It suits you.”
“Does it? How so?”
I hesitated, then told him the truth. “Because you’re a little bit arrogant.”
“Oh, really? And here I expected to be flattered.”
“You should be. It’s like the way you’re handling this car. All confidence and zip, in and out of traffic.” I shrugged. “That’s how I think of architects, I guess. It goes back to the pyramids, right? I mean, some Egyptian architect had the audacity to say that his design would rise up to the sky, and that they would figure out a way to make that happen. It’s like building a skyscraper to the heavens or a bridge that spans a canyon.”
I looked out the window at the Atlanta skyline, shining over the city. “It takes my breath away, you know. There’s such control and precision to creating something like that. It’s—I don’t know.”
“I think you do,” he said softly.
I glanced over at him, saw him looking back at me with both interest and understanding on his face.
I shrugged. “Maybe. It’s just—okay, I used to skip school sometimes and take the bus downtown. I lived in Los Angeles,” I added. “My parents had no idea, but there were days when I just couldn’t deal with all the crap that was going on in my life. And so I’d stand there, my head tilted back, and I’d look at the city rising up around me. And it would fill me. I didn’t understand it then—all I knew was that it gave me hope.”
“Do you understand it now?”
“Yes,” I said softly. “I do.”
“So do I.”
“You were right about the hope,” he said. “But you were only a kid, so you didn’t get the core. That understanding came later when you realized that the clean, soaring lines of an office building are a testament. A reminder that circumstances and the world can be controlled, no matter how futile and lost some moments might feel.”
My throat tightened, because he knew. He truly got it. And in that moment I was grateful I never cried, because I didn’t want to shed tears in front of him. “Yes. Exactly.”
“Why didn’t you pursue it? As a job, I mean?”
“I would have,” I admitted. “But I don’t have the skill set or the vision. I can see a building and understand its greatness, but my mind isn’t set up to conceive of it in the first place. So I guess it’s more of a hobby with me, and why I’ve got a job in real estate. And I like to walk cities and look at the buildings. Read books. Take photographs. I take a lot of photographs,” I added.
I didn’t ask why he became an architect. I didn’t need to. I could tell simply by watching him that he was doing exactly what he’d been born to do. Even something as simple as his confident precision when he handled the Porsche proved that he embodied everything I admired. He was a man who didn’t shrink from the world, but walked proudly within it, both capable and eager to reshape it in accordance with his own unique vision.
Had I seen that quality in him from the first moment? I must have, because why else would nothing more than a look from him have brought me to my knees?
I was still wondering as we climbed the steps to my second floor apartment in Buckhead.
I broke the silence as we arrived at my door. “I don’t do this. Not usually.”
“Go home?”
He was teasing, of course, but I remained serious, and with my hand I gestured between the two of us. “This,” I said. “I don’t date. Not very much. It’s not—it’s not really on my radar.”
“Good. I don’t want you to date. But, Sylvia, you’re on my radar now. And I think that’s a very good thing.”
My cheeks flushed as I fumbled in my purse for my keys. “So, I’ve only got wine inside. Do you like red?”